Writers at High Noon

Posted: November 12, 2010 in screenwriting
Tags: , , , ,

Recently, Jessica Alba did an interview, and one of the leaked quotes got all the screenwriters in a tizzy. Something about “good” actors never follow scripts, they just make up whatever they want to say. I’m not here to help spread Jessica Alba’s “ideas.” If you care enough to look it up yourself, you can bask in her unending brilliance.


My friend sent me this link to one screenwriter’s response. It’s a calm assessment of her assumptions. A pleasant read. Short.

If this is a real quote, it is arrogant and dismissive of the work of screenwriters, but it is nothing new, and in fact, a typical Hollywood attitude towards screenwriting.

In Frank Capra’s autobiography ( a tremendously interesting book) his wife says that she always recognizes the screenwriters because they are all so unhappy.

Maybe because they are bitter about their place in the pecking order. Maybe because everyone is mean to them all the time. But screenwriting is hugely valuable to movie making.

Do you know how many times people have come to me and said, “I have a great idea for a movie,” and the even more idiotic, “You can have it for free. I just want to see it get made.”

Hey, everybody. Guess what? Ideas are worthless. Even the government knows that; you can’t copyright an idea. What is valuable is the effort and skill that turns an idea into something. And not everyone can do that well, though directors and actors and producers always think they can without any practice or training.

One last thought, again related to the great Frank Capra. There is a story (apocryphal) that Frank, in an interview, was waxing poetic about the Capra touch and how he made hit movies, and other general statements of arrogance. When his long time screenwriter, Robert Riskin, read the interview, he sent Frank a present.

Frank received his script sized package and eagerly tore it open to find 120 blank pages and a note that read, “Put the  famous Capra touch on that!”

  1. Dwight says:

    In my acting class, I strictly emphasize that it is the actor’s job to portray what the AUTHOR wants and not what the actor thinks.

    But I honestly doubt Jessica Alba ever took an acting class.

  2. Ray of the hill-people says:

    Didnt Joey on Friends say something similar and get written to the bottom of an elevator shaft?

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